MILWAUKEE -- A warning for drivers. Police are alerting people in the Riverwest neighborhood about a rash of car thefts and they're taking an extra step in an effort to stop them.
Police have sent out letters warning drivers of Chrysler and Dodge vans -- they are targets. They are trying to deter thieves with a simple device.
"My heart started pounding," said Terri Mikorski, neighbor.
A quiet block in Riverwest is interrupted by crime outside of Terri Mikorski's home.
"I was scared because I couldn't believe it. I got up around 4 or 4:30 in the morning, and I heard some weird noises outside," said Mikorski.
Mikorski witnessed a group of kids breaking into parked cars.
"They saw me and then they took off down the block, so I called police," said Mikorski.
Milwaukee police are warning drivers this trend is on the uptick -- especially in the Riverwest area.
"Cars are getting broken into, they're getting stolen. So it's becoming pretty common over here lately," said Nicole Contrino, neighbor.
"Last week, we had three cars that were in here and today we have two," said Peter Bilgo, Riverside Automotive.
Riverside Auto has seen the increase firsthand; they've been working on cars damaged by car thefts and break-ins.
"Mostly the Chrysler products, Dodge, Plymouths, a lot of the caravans," said Bilgo.
Wednesday, two vehicles on the lot were getting repairs after attempted thefts.
"They took a lock cylinder, took a screwdriver and started it," said Bilgo.
Bilgo owns the auto shop. He's encouraging drivers to invest in a club-like device, hoping in some way to stop the thefts and restore the calm.
"I've been here all my life and it's never been like that before," said Mikorski.
Police say often times stolen vehicles are used to commit other crimes.
Meantime, police will be giving out the steering wheel lock devices Saturday, October 17th to those people who received the letter.